Student-Led Investments in Our City

St. Mary's Community Fund students

True to our Episcopal roots, at St. Mary's, acts of kindness and a spirit of service are not only encouraged but are expected from all members of our community. Our commitment to giving back teaches our students lessons they carry far beyond the classroom. 

One of the most pivotal ways our students give back is through the St. Mary’s Community Fund (SMCF). Established in 1998, the St. Mary's Community Fund is a student-run organization that has granted over $500,000 to over 50 local agencies directly benefiting Mid-South children. 

Not only does the SMCF re-invest in the city in which we live, but it also promotes philanthropic leadership among our girls. Students learn about every facet of philanthropy, from fundraising to hands-on service work to the intricacies of the grant-making process.  

“The best part for me is watching the student leadership take ownership of their ideas and run with them. SMCF is entirely theirs to run, which is part of what makes it unique,” said Director of the St. Mary’s Community Fund Susan Whitten Graber ’86.

By reading grant applications, presenting them at monthly committee meetings, organizing site visits, and choosing reliable and deserving grant recipients, the student leaders learn the process of philanthropy and its important effect on the community.

“I first decided that I wanted to join SMCF when I was in Lower School. Service is something that I have always had a passion for, and I knew that the St. Mary’s Community Fund was a great way to expand that,” said SMCF North Campus Co-Chair Caroline Hill ’25.

Next week on North Campus, the SMCF will be raising awareness and funds through its annual GIVE901 carpool coin drive. SMCF members will wait in the carpool lines with buckets for donations. This is also an opportunity for Lower School to contribute points to their Blue or White team! Of course, your daughter is invited to bring any money she can any day of the week, and parents can donate via this link. 

  • Monday, Nov. 13: Bring pennies
  • Tuesday, Nov. 14: Bring nickels
  • Wednesday, Nov. 15: Bring dimes
  • Thursday, Nov. 16: Bring quarters
  • Friday, Nov. 17: Bring dollars

On South Campus, SMCF members are raising money through a bake sale, T-shirt sales, and grade-level potlucks.  On both Fridays of the campaign during carpool, they will be accepting Venmo and cash gifts while handing out Gibson's donuts! All donations go toward the Middle and Upper School divisions' competition to be the top fundraising grade, which will win a "Skip School for Service Day" organized by the SMCF leadership.

“I love teaching students in the Lower School and ECC about the importance of serving and giving back to the Memphis area and finding innovative ways to do so,” said North Campus SMCF Co-Chair Reeya Sharma ’24.

South Campus SMCF Chair Caroline Garrett concurs. “Being Chair of the GIVE901 committee has allowed me to work behind the scenes to get people excited to raise money for organizations that make such a serious impact on our community.”

The coin drive isn’t the only way to participate in the week’s events. Students organized the GIVE901 Virtual Auction, featuring gift cards and merchandise from over 20 Memphis restaurants and shops. Below, you can see a handful of the businesses participating in the virtual auction. The auction is currently LIVE and will end on Sunday, Nov. 12, at 10 p.m. Anyone can bid, so share the link with family and friends. All proceeds fund SMCF grants awarded to area nonprofits serving children. 

  • Anthropologie
  • Belle Meade Social
  • Buff City Soap
  • Grizzlies tickets
  • High Point Pizza
  • Joseph
  • Muddy's
  • Novel

Thanks to the generous contributions of the St. Mary's community, in 2023 the St. Mary's Community Fund was able to grant over $40,000 to six non-profit Mid-South agencies:

  • Carpenter Art Garden
  • Girls on the Run Memphis
  • Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
  • Memphis Child Advocacy Center
  • Porter-Leath
  • STREETS Ministries

“Agencies love to partner with us because of the girls' energy and passion, and they want to help us grow the next generation of philanthropists and community leaders,” said Ms. Whitten Graber.

The St. Mary’s Community Fund is undoubtedly a win-win for both the community and St. Mary’s student leaders.

“Being a member of SMCF has been so much fun and taught me a lot; I feel really lucky to be a part of something so incredible and unique to St. Mary’s,” said Caroline Hill.

Learn more about the St. Mary's Community Fund.

Donate online.
 

  • All-School

Additional Images

“The best part for me is watching the student leadership take ownership of their ideas and run with them. SMCF is entirely theirs to run, which is part of what makes it unique,” said Director of the St. Mary’s Community Fund Susan Whitten Graber ’86.